Reed remains true to himself

By Rex HoggardMarch 4, 2015, 9:56 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Patrick Reed has lived his short PGA Tour career on the fine line where confidence lapses into cockiness.

He’s fallen over that divide on occasion, like last year at the WGC-Cadillac Championship when he declared himself a “top-5 player,” but he has always been ready with an answer.

A day after that declaration, Reed’s competitive mea culpa came via a one-stroke victory for his third triumph in his last 14 starts.

On Sunday at last year’s Ryder Cup he stunned the partisan galleries when he shushed the crowd during his match against Henrik Stenson, a match he would win, 1 up. Reed would finish his week in Scotland with a 3-0-1 record, a rare bright spot from an otherwise forgettable American side.

“That’s me,” Reed smiled on Wednesday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Patrick Reed is brash and unapologetic and arrives at Doral an unchanged man. Truth is he wouldn’t know how to alter his course even if he wanted to.

He returns to Doral this week and is still not a top-5 player, although he’s on a well-marked path to arrive there in the not-so-distant future after a victory at the year-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions moved him into the top 15.

True to his DNA, Reed still holds to his “top-5” comment like a 3-yard draw with a 5-iron.

“That’s more of what people think,” he said. “Honestly for me, it’s just more on the determination and passion that I have for the game.”

Reed is neither confident nor cocky. He’s simply driven. Driven to be a top-5 player, driven to play in every international team match until he draws a pension, driven to be mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Rory, Tiger and Phil.

“Any time you go up and play against the top player in the world, you'd better be comfortable,” Reed said. “I would love to get up to that position where I'm a true rival against [McIlroy].”

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For all of the microanalysis, Reed is not a villain. In fact, he can be charming when the topic and the tone of a conversation align properly.

During Wednesday’s give and take with the media, Reed was asked if his wife, Justine, had turned in her status as a professional caddie, “Ask her, she's right back there ... she's not retired yet,” he laughed.

On the golf course, however, there is an edge that hasn’t softened regardless of the negative attention he received in the past year.

A recent story in Sport Illustrated chronicled Reed’s rocky history and his estrangement from his teammates during a brief stay at the University of Georgia and finally Augusta State. For the latter, it was Reed’s driven desire to be the best that didn’t exactly make friends and influence people.

While last year’s “top-5” missive may not sit well with his Tour frat brothers, most will concede that inner belief is a job requirement for a professional golfer. Some would say Reed’s only miscue was offering his thoughts on camera.

To his credit, Reed knew the “top-5” questions would be waiting when he arrived back at Doral, site of his most high-profile victory. But instead of fixating on it he waxed over the importance of winning such an important event.

“To be able to actually play against them and have a lead going into Sunday and having Tiger in the group in front of me, having Bubba right there, having Dufner, having all these guys that have won majors all around me; and be able to hold them off and go out and win it, it just gave me that extra confidence that I can play with everybody,” he said.

Some Tour professionals play for trophies, others for money; Reed thrives on the thrill of the duel. Confrontational by nature, he is at his happiest when the tension is highest.

Even the Honda Classic, where he finished tied for seventh after a closing 73, was a learning moment.

“When you win, you always look at all the positives and everything you did well,” said Reed, who tees off Thursday at Doral at 11:22 p.m. ET. “But when you play poorly, you can fine-tune and find really what it is that you need to work on.”

For Reed, improving on the course, not softening his competitive edge, is the only thing worth focusing on.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry